I hate to sound like “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells,” but I have lost count of the misapprehensions in thespecial feature on racism last week. My parents and their siblings were Jewish, and grew up in the East End of London, in the days when it was a Jewish enclave, then called a “ghetto.”
There was plenty of racial discrimination in the world in which they grew up: but they went to school all the same, and learnt what they were taught, and that was that. They didn’t have and didn’t need teachers and mentors of their own racial group, none of their teachers being Jewish, and many being Welsh. And they weren’t from stereotypical two-parent families. My maternal grandfather deserted my grandmother, preferring a nurse he met in hospital after he was wounded in World War I.
My father’s mother died when he was four, and my paternal grandfather never had a caring spouse to be her successor. Both my parents experienced plenty of instability at home. But I repeat: my parents and all their siblings went to school and got on with their schoolwork.
However, here is one interesting fact: my mother’s brother quickly learnt not to tell my grandmother that he’d got a smack from one of his teachers: because she would immediately give him a smack for having got a smack. Never once did she think that his behaviour at school hadn’t merited the first smack!